With the recent upsurge in data breaches dominating the news, a cyber incident or data breach seems to have become an unavoidable risk – almost a rite of passage – for many companies. Yet, often overlooked are intellectual property (IP) cyberthefts that the public rarely hears about. IP thefts generally only affect the robbed, who has neither the business incentive nor the legal duty to report, and there is no direct impact to the larger public (e.g. customer’s personal data leak). Despite the relative noiselessness, cyberattacks stealing IP assets can mean life or death to those affected, for IP is often one of the most valuable assets of a company.
Even under the legal regimes intended to protect a company’s proprietary interests in innovation and competitiveness, IP can still be vulnerable to cyberattacks by the sole fact that much of these critical non-public IP’s (e.g. knowhows, trade secrets, pre-patent prototypes, unregistered copyrights) are stored electronically today. While rights under IP law provide some legal means to recover damages from infringement or misappropriation, protecting IP from theft or compromise in the first place is the most effective – perhaps the only – means to maximizing the value of your IP and maintaining your competitive edge.
To help guard against the risk of IP cybertheft, businesses with critical IP assets to protect should:
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